For a game that’s all about stalking wild animals over vast landscapes like Elmer Fudd, Cabela’s 2009 misses the target by a mile. The environments – from the South African Serengeti to the icy mountains of Canada – are unsubtly channeled, so that you never really get the chance to explore any more than the developers want you to. For example, as you hunt a jaguar through an Ecuadorian jungle there are low shrubs on either side of the path that may as well be 100ft tall walls, because you can’t walk through or over them. Why? So you’re funneled toward a giant snake attack early on, that’s why. It should be exciting, but it really isn’t.
Above: The eternal struggle
There’s a loose storyline here too. Your mate gets mauled by a bear, and thus begins a bloody rampage of revenge against innocent animals. Your aim? To avenge his death by becoming the world’s number one hunter.
Your arsenal consists of a high-powered rifle for big animals such as bears, a lightweight rifle for wolves, and a handgun for, er, snakes. All of these can be upgraded with better sights, rounds and stocks for reduced recoil. The missions are a mix of straight hunts, where you use your skills to track animals, to crow-barred rescue missions involving crashed planes and avalanches. The cutscene banter between characters reaches Pinocchio levels of wooden and looks truly awful – as does the entire game. But for all the disgusting graphics and goofy missions there’s fun to be had.
Cabela 2009’s draw comes from the pseudo-free-roaming bits. Creeping slowly through long grass, while you try to stay one step ahead of a pack of lions, creates an intense atmosphere that you just don’t get in other FPS games. But it’s the unintentional hilarity that Cabela’s 2009 provides that makes it bearable. Let certain animals get too close and you’ll launch into QTEs. As a mountain lion pounces, a quick twist left and you’ll bat it away.
Sadly, Cabela’s 2009 is a mess overall. Tracking in Hunter Sense is way too difficult because trails are tricky to find; the mission structure is disjointed; and the graphics are rougher than a bear’s bum. Best leave this one out in the wilderness.
Jan 15, 2009